Monday, December 31, 2012

#OperationMOVE : Looking back, looking forward.

It feels timely to reflect on the year that has passed.

This is our last check in for 2012, marking four months of #OperationMOVE. What I had envisaged as a little fun thing to get me off my bum in Spring has turned into a beautiful, supportive community that keeps growing and evolving. I could not be happier or more proud.

I don't make New Years resolutions because I think they set me up to fail. But I do have some big goals for 2013 and I'm going to share them because it is you guys that keep me accountable, and I hope we all do the same for you too.

On this day last year I could not jog 100 metres without losing my breath and feeling a bit ill. Today I run and walk around 30kms a week and LOVE running. I did not see that coming!

I have a new respect for this body of mine. The achievements I've made have spurred me on, and in 2013 I am looking forward to reaching more milestones with my running as well as branching out and embracing more muscle building activity. I have a vision of how I want my body to look. I know what it will take to get there. And for the first time I KNOW I can do it.

Yeah maybe not... but somewhere between where I am now and this would be nice :)
Image Source.
I have some big plans in place for #OperationMOVE in 2013. I hope you'll be coming on the journey with me.

Don't forget the little referral comp I've got going as well! If you know someone who is looking for some support and encouragement to get moving, make sure they pop in tomorrow with their January commitment and let me know that you sent them!

Thank you all so much for being part of this. On the days I think I really can't be stuffed I think of you all, of the efforts you are making, and it motivates me so much. I am so proud of all of us!

So, for the last time this year, tell me your numbers! Have a fantastic New Years Eve and don't forget to pop in tomorrow with your January commitment!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's not about the money, money, money.

Except when it is.

Random post for this time of year I know, and I was taking a little break before the wrap up for #OperationMOVE tomorrow and the 2013 launch on Tuesday but sometimes you just gotta bang the words out.

I'm sure many of you are aware of a thread over on GOMI that has been the subject of lots of discussion in the last few weeks. I'm not going to get into the earlier stuff, except to say that sometimes people say not nice stuff on the internet about all sorts of people and it can really suck to be on the receiving end of that. Some people I love and respect have been the subject of that discussion, and I hope they are okay and confident in the knowledge that they are doing some great things out there on the interwebs.

Anyway, my blog came up in reference to this carseat review along with some discussion of disclosure.

If you come here a bit, you will know that I sometimes write sponsored posts. I also do reviews and giveaways. I've never attempted to hide that I occasionally draw an income from this blog because I do not feel it is anything to be ashamed of. I've been interested in monetisation from the start and I have been open about that here and elsewhere. In fact I am proud that I can help prop up our family income, especially given that in our circumstances I won't be able to return to paid work outside the home until either my Little Mate is at school or my Supertrucker gets a job that doesn't take him thousands of kilometres away from us for days on end.

Anyway the current discussion centres around the word 'sponsored'. And I really would like your feedback because even though I have an understanding on the terms we use across many Aussie parenting blogs, it appears that maybe many hold different views and you already know that transparency is really very important to me.

So in a nutshell: to me, when a post is marked as sponsored, it means that money has been changed hands. In terms of this blog I now write {sponsored} in the header if I have been paid either a full fee in lieu of product or if I have been paid an admin fee on a review post. I also include in the first line who the post has been sponsored by.

On review/giveaway posts I indicate within the first paragraph or so that I have received the product I am reviewing. These products are gifted to me, and I believed that was understood but possibly I am wrong there. I also include a disclosure paragraph at the bottom of the post.

If I am required to include specific SEO terms, or if the company wish to have pre-publication access to the post I also mark them as sponsored regardless of payment or lack thereof.

Unless a post is specifically time sensitive, branded posts appear on weekends here because I know I have a number of compers who like to check in then and see what's happening, and also because I know some people don't enjoy sponsored content and it means they know not to click over on those days (although I'd like to think that sometimes my sponsored posts are a little bit entertaining too). Also, yes it is Sunday. Breaking all the rules this week.

I do understand the receipt of goods can be construed as sponsorship as well by definition and I'm not arguing that at all, but if we mark all branded posts as sponsored how can we differentiate between those where a payment has been received and those that haven't? Does it even matter? Also I wonder in terms of monetary value if there is a line in the sand... receiving a loaf of bread and mentioning it in a post is quite different to accepting a high value item and dedicating 500 words plus multiple images and links to it in some ways... should this impact on how we disclose?

I am genuinely interested to know your thoughts. With a new year looming I'm thinking a new (maybe less snarky) disclosure policy is in order. And while you already know that I don't write about things that I don't use, don't love or don't think you would be interested in, I am really keen to have your input because at the end of the day if YOU don't like what you see here then I'm doing it wrong. Plus that would make me really sadface.

So, your thoughts?

ETA: In the interests of full dislosure (LOL) if you weren't already aware, I am half of Shake Media along with Zoey from GoodGoogs. We run social media and blogger outreach campaigns and require full disclosure of all the bloggers that we work with. This topic is of interest to me not only as a blogger but as someone who works with bloggers as well.

ETA 2: I've thought about this a lot. I've considered your comments and ideas, and I have updated my disclosure policy accordingly. In brief, any posts which have attracted a monetary payment or in which the brand has requested particular words/phrases be used will appear with a {sponsored} in the title of the post as currently happens. There will then be a disclosure statement at the commencement of the post.

If I have received an item for review and/or giveaway the word {review} will appear in the title and there will be a disclosure statement at the top of the post.

I thought about just putting {sponsored} on every single one as has been suggested at that other place. Then I thought to myself WWGD*? And I reckon she would tell me to do what I feel is appropriate, honest and transparent whilst remaining true to myself and to my readers as well. So that is what I will do.

*WWGD - What would Glowless do? One of the first monetised blogs I came across when I moved from my old skool blog to this one, and a woman I respect immensely.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and your family
a happy and healthy 
holiday season.

Merry Christmas from the house of Stuff!

Monday, December 24, 2012

#OperationMOVE - Updates and news!

I know I've been slack the past couple of weeks... sorry! Actually I've not been slack at all, just crazy busy like the rest of you I am sure.

Anyway here is the tally board as it stands with not too much of 2012 left! If I've missed any of your updates I do apologise, please leave a comment and let me know. I've had some issues with the commenting system again but will be looking to change it early in the new year.

So in other news, I'm taking a little break this week and there won't be a check in this coming Friday. There WILL be a final check in next Monday 31st December though so be ready to celebrate your successes this month!

On Tuesday the 1st, the January launch post will be live so it's a good time to start thinking about what you'd like to commit to in January.

And just because I really believe the more the merrier, if you know someone who needs a little nudge to get moving I am running a referrals competition! To qualify, you just need your people to comment on the January post next week and make sure they let me know that you sent them. At the end of the month, whoever has had the most referrals that have stayed the course with us will win a $100 gift card on me! Not sponsored, not branded, out of my own pocket because #OperationMOVE has changed my life and I want it to change everyone else's too.

Have a fabulous Christmas and I can't wait to hear how you've all gone when we wrap up for December next week!

Friday, December 21, 2012

#OperationMOVE - This is not a health kick, this is my life.


This is a guest post by the gorgeous Kate from Our Little Sins.

A couple of weeks ago I posted some photos of what I’d eaten for that day. Someone commented: “Are you on a health kick?”. An innocent question because I guess it looked like I was ‘being healthy’, and it got me thinking.

The thought of eating what I was eating and not including anything else must be foreign to some people, and must be indicative of their perception of something you do on a ‘health kick’. There was no bread, no dairy, no pasta or rice, no chocolate, lollies or cakes – just lots of salad and vegetables. But, what I eat now (and what was in the photo) is not just for the time being until I {insert desired response}, it’s for my life. The rest of my life.

It’s taken me 2 ½ years to finally come to terms with the food intolerances I developed when I was pregnant the second time, and nearly a year to work through the disordered behavior I’ve had around food since I was 10. Two issues with food – physical and emotional – intertwined this year to cause me to want to change my eating habits. For life.

I was not happy with how I looked. And I was not happy with how I felt. But I want to be happy with both.

So what to do? Go on a short-term ‘diet’ and ‘health kick’, tell everyone “I’m dieting” and aim for a number (maybe weight, maybe size?) then revert to my former ways and gain it all back again? Where is the appeal there?

Or I could sort out the real issues and change my life? If I act mindfully then how can I ever regret who I am and what I look like? If I make healthiness in all of my life my goal then I don’t have to be controlled by numbers and weights and dates. It all just is what it is.

Enter #OperationMOVE and a new gym membership and my life looks better than ever. I’ve read more about nutrition and fitness than I ever thought possible. And the once-extreme-looking lifestyles now appeal to me. I’m reluctant to call what I do by a name, because I do what feels right for me and I don’t want to be restricted by someone else’s label for their own lifestyle.

I eat whole foods. Loads of vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts. And oats. Some fruit – mostly coconut in the form of coconut flour and oil – but others occasionally. For a treat I’ll have Green & Blacks 85% chocolate. Often half a block at a time! Since cutting sugar out of my diet 85% chocolate, or perhaps 70% is about as sweet as I can handle. No longer do I crave things that don’t agree with me, and no longer do I ‘just have a little bit, I’m sure it’s okay’…because it never was okay and I’d always end up eating far too much.  

I’ve always loved exercise while I’m doing it and afterwards but sometimes getting there has been tough. I used to look at my gym clothes and look at the couch and mostly I’d pick the couch. When my children were born it was even easier to forgo the gym and sit at home. Excuses were easy… “they might cry while I’m gone” “I could sit here and enjoy myself” “The Innovator’s already had a tough day at work, I feel guilty expecting him to stay with the children while I exercise” “surely I can just go for a longer walk tomorrow with the pram” “I could set up my own program to do at home”… The list is endless. Really though, it was laziness. And not prioritising my health.

Now I go to the gym. Usually at least twice a week, sometimes up to five. It depends. I don’t beat myself up either way. I don’t celebrate either way. It just is what it is. This is my life, there aren’t any rules that need to be followed.

With a history of disordered behavior I have to be mindful of my tendency to become obsessive but so far I’m doing okay. More than five days a week in the gym is too much, and cancelling social engagements to go to the gym is indicative of a problem (for me). If I keep that in check, continue to eat the foods that make me feel good and celebrate with my new #OperationMOVE buddies the feelings of achievement and accomplishment, then I know my new life is the one for me.

My advice for anyone not happy with their health (as long as it’s not a serious health issue):

Work out what you want – what do you actually want? What is holding you back? Why do you behave that way? What foods make you feel good? What makes you feel bad? What do you do when you eat? Think about it.

What can you do? If you focus on this rather than on what you can’t do then you’ll feel better. I used to get so bent out of shape when I thought I didn’t have time to go to the gym but slowly, slowly I’ve changed my thinking.

Get others on board. I couldn’t go to the gym or eat the way I do without getting The Innovator on board. He can see the difference in my emotions and happiness and is 100% supportive. Even when I’m eating bone broth.

Read, read, read. What resonates with you? What do you read and think “yep, I agree with that” or “jay-sus, that sounds like rubbish…” Adopt what makes sense, ignore what sounds like rubbish.

Live the change you want to be. Don’t set unrealistic goals. My biggest problem was making grand, sweeping statements like “I’m going to exercise five days a week for an hour each time” then if I had a slip up or didn’t make it one week then that meant I’d failed and I’d stop. Now, I just do what I can, while being mindful of the number of minutes I’ve committed to for #OperationMOVE . But even if I don’t make it I just shrug it off.

Don’t go on a ‘diet’. Read ‘Intuitive Eating’. Change your behavior. If it’s too difficult to think about cutting things out forever, just cut them out for one meal at a time. You might find you feel better. Or don’t cut them out at all. I cut things out because they cause painful physical reactions. But if you don’t have an adverse reaction to something why would you prohibit yourself from eating it?

Goals? Besides what I’ve committed to exercise-wise for #OperationMOVE, I really want to work on my coffee, Pepsi Max and carrot addictions! Seriously. The rest is irrelevant. I weigh myself once a month, on the 1st, just to see what’s happening but as long as I feel okay along the way (physically and emotionally) then the numbers are irrelevant. As long as what I do on a daily basis makes me feel good then I’m not working towards anything. For someone who has a tendency to become obsessed with things this is a monumental shift but it’s working. This ‘this is my life’ thing really is working.

It's check in day! With the end of the month and the season of celebration nearly upon us, how are you travelling towards your own goals? The tally board will be up over the weekend (I promise!) so let us know how you are going!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I am not Adam Lanza's mother.

I've read with great concern and sadness the links being drawn between Adam Lanza and ASD.

I can understand that when something so horrific has occurred, people want something to blame. I'm sure that is human nature, although no condition, be it ASD related or not, can explain the actions of that person on that particular day, no matter how much anyone would like them to.

I read this article on the Huffington Post yesterday and it hurt my heart.

Here is a woman in desperate need of help and support, who has willingly handed over her child's privacy to the media. I suppose she has done so in the hopes that the piece will shock readers enough that some action will take place to help her, and others in her situation.

I also have a son who is capable of great violence and aggression at times. He has a diagnosis of Aspergers and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. I don't write about the incidents we encounter here as a general rule, because I don't feel it paints a fair portrait of my child. A child who is growing up incredibly fast, and who has a say in how much of him I share in this public arena.

O.D.D. is about as much fun as it sounds. When he was first diagnosed I made the mistake of googling the disorder and what I found was very upsetting. We have walked a very challenging path at times, but I try to remain conscious that no diagnosis can define my son. If it is hard on me, how much harder is it on him?

He has been judged harshly in the past. Those judgements have shaped the way some people perceive and treat him. When you label a child as 'bad' or 'naughty' or 'evil' and you make them aware that this is your perception, even subconsciously, you shape their behaviour and their self ideology. If a parent calls their child psychotic or hateful in a public forum, what hope does that child hold of ever seeing himself any other way?

My sons are on the autism spectrum. My daughters are neurotypical. All four are disciplined, loved, guided and cherished in equal measure. I do not use their names here or on social media, not because I think that it would be impossible for anyone to discover them if they really wanted to, but because I believe it is their right to choose to share that once they have a comprehension of what it means.

I share parts of our journey here in the hopes that it might be helpful to others walking similar paths. But I try to do so mindfully. If this paints an inaccurate picture of our lives then so be it. This is the internet, what you see is not always what you get.

I hope the woman who wrote that article is able to access help and support as a result of that publication. I also hope her son never reads it. He is not Adam Lanza. She is not Adam Lanza's mother. Neither am I.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ixnay on the Ombre - a DIY misadventure.

I am going to blame Pinterest.

I stumbled across some pretty ombre nail pins the other day, and thought to myself I can totally do that. Then I thought I can totally do that AND put together a photo tutorial for you all so you can do that too! Because everybody knows if it is on Pinterest it is totally doable, right?

So. For those of you who would like to try the ombre nailpolish look at home, a DIY tutorial that is not for the faint hearted.

PS I did my toenails because I bite my fingernails and they are manky. I'd probably bite my toenails if my flexibility was any good. Just saying.

If you have a Supertrucker who swears you are trying to poison him with fumes when you so much as look at a bottle of nailpolish, I recommend doing this outside. First you will need some feet, or hands if you aren't a nailbiter. Here are some I prepared earlier. They are not as purty as I'd like, but running for your life will do that. 
You will need: acetone or nailpolish remover, cotton buds, a neutral white or pale pink nailpolish plus whatever other colours you want to use. You'll also need a clear topcoat, a makeup sponge and some tissues.
Johnnie Walker is optional but highly recommended.
Apply a coat of your base colour to clean dry nails. I used a very pale pink because I don't own white nailpolish.
Wet your make up sponge and squeeze it out so that it remains slightly damp. Open the nailpolish colours that you intend to use. Hot tip, have a tissue handy to rest the sponge on in between so you don't paint your table by accident like I did.
Paint stripes of your colours on the end of the makeup sponge then blot gently. Take your sponge, line it up carefully with your nail bed and press down. Bounce it up and down against the nail a couple of times so that the colours blend together a little bit. I did this twice for each nail as the colours were too translucent after just one coat. Bear in mind that toenails are little, aside from the big one. Again, something I though about after painting on the nailpolish stripes. Der.
At this stage your nails will look like this. Hmmm. Wonder if this was the best idea you've ever had. Decide to run around with the vaccuum while you wait for your nails to dry, safe in the knowledge that  your two year old is out on the mower with the Supertrucker and your other children are watching a movie,  so you can happily leave your stuff out where it is.
Return to discover that your two year did a runner from her Dad, and is happily 'making pretties' just like Mummy. Curse quietly. Remove as much polish from aforementioned child as possible with  nailpolish remover then wash her down with soapy water. Be grateful she wasn't putting it in her mouth,  and wonder if this rules you out for Mother of the Year.
Use the tiny amount of acetone you have left in the lid of the bottle along with a cotton bud to clean up the excess nailpolish on your toes. In this case there was more excess than nail, so allow a good half hour at least if the same is the case with you.
Apply your clear topcoat and admire the extreme tackiness that is your toes. Hope that the dodgy overrun on the cuticles will come off in the shower, because it looks shocking!
Return feet to their natural Haviana habitat. Decide that from a height they don't look too feral, just mildly so. Remember that there is a reason beauty therapists and pedicures exist.

Voila. They are nothing if not bright, right?

Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where the name of this post is from. If you have figured that out then you already know my level of boganimity is high, and I am proud of it.

Keep on walking.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The American Way

When I woke to the news of the Connecticut massacre in an elementary school yesterday I was shattered. I could not move from the horror of the idea that someone could send their young child to school where they would be gunned down. I banged the words of my sadness out, you can find that post here.

I avoided the news and social media for most of the day, choosing instead to focus on my children and the many blessings that come from living in a country where I don't need to live in fear of such a thing happening.

I am not naive. Terrible things happen here too, of course they do. But not with the alarming regularity of the US, nor the horrific bodycount.

I remember well the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. I was 20 years old, old enough to understand the depth of that tragedy. I was also old enough to see the sense behind the rapid tightening of gun laws and the amnesty that occurred in this country. It was not an entirely popular change. Many argued in vain against it. I would think that today, with no further mass killings since (in which time there have been 33 in America), most would agree it was a good decision.

Today I am sad, but I am also angry. The rhetoric being spouted by the NRA and other gun law lobbyists is making me so mad. I do not understand how, on the back of yet another tragedy in which so many have died, there can be any justification for the right to carry a weapon in a civilised, peaceful society. Particularly an automatic or semi automatic one.

I live in the country. I am not a stranger to guns. But a bolt action shotgun used for hunting foxes is a far cry from an automatic weapon designed to mow down anything in its path. Why would anyone have a need for such a weapon, except with the intent to kill as many people or things as possible in a short time frame? It is utterly beyond me.

The idea that a person needs a gun for protection, because everyone else has a one, is idiotic in the extreme. The argument that if someone wanted a gun that badly they would get one may be true to an extent, but in this country it would take some doing and even then it would not be an automatic firearm. Certainly it would not be a case of wandering into the house and casually grabbing the three weapons your mother keeps there. You know, for protection.

I don't believe for one moment that Australia is less corrupt, less morally questionable, less violent or aggressive than America. We have all the dodgy stuff going on here as well. Drugs, gambling problems, violence, abuse. Our culture tries hard to mimic that of the US in so many ways, and for better or for worse it often succeeds.

The difference is I can't walk into K-Mart and pick up a firearm tomorrow. In fact I can't legally own a firearm because I do not have a license, and I am perfectly happy with that. More than happy. Ecstatic actually. Because when I send my kids to school on Monday my greatest fear is that my son might get in a scuffle with his mates, or my daughter might not have anyone to play with. Not that they may never come home at all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One Month with #OperationMOVE

This is a guest post from the gorgeous Zoey of GoodGoods fame.

I am not a poster child for the super-fit. In my twenties all I had to do to lose weight was look at a treadmill. Or, if that didn’t work I’d just smoke more, eat less and drink more coffee. But now I don’t smoke and I love food. I admire people who are only interested in exercise because they want to be fit, but I am not that person. I want my shape back. And since Piper was born and proved to be absolutely not help at all in the weight loss by breastfeeding plan, it’s been a struggle to get there. Seriously NO HELP AT ALL. It’s just as well she is super cute. I lost 5kgs but it took a lot longer than I thought it would and I was starting to find the scales extremely demotivating. So in November I did not weigh myself. It was quite liberating.

I decided to take photos that month instead. Fifteen selfies is a whole lot of selfies. But I sensed that the scales were not my friend in documenting my progress, and this seemed like an easy way to do it.

 Stuff that I learnt about running this month:
1) Setting a goal, an aggressive goal of running 150kms was awesome. I got food poisoning in the middle and if I had not had that goal I wouldn’t have pushed myself for the rest of the month. It motivated me and it kept me honest.

2) Barring injury, I do not negotiate with myself as to speed or distance once I have started running. The bulk of my running happens on a treadmill which although not as physically demanding as outdoor running is extremely mentally challenging.

3) Sweating on your iPhone is a bad idea. It survived. But I was stressed.

4) If you can run 10kms on the treadmill, you can run it on the road. Just maybe don’t run it when you are in Melbourne and think everything looks so pretty you want to stop all the time.

5) Mostly, it is not physical, it is mental. If you step on the treadmill or start running on the road and you tell yourself you are going to do 8kms you are going to get tired more quickly than if you tell yourself you are going to run 10kms. I know when my weak points are on my run (generally the hard bit for me is the middle bit – if I’m on a 12km run that 5-7kms is hard work) and I don’t listen to anything my mind is rambling on about during that period. I remind myself that this is the hard bit and it will get easier.

6) The best money I ever spent was on decent running shoes, a proper sports bra and workout clothes. The tights and tops I wear stabilise my core and the bra makes sure nothing moves and it has made a huge difference.

 Stuff I Learnt About Myself This Month
1) I can stay exactly the same weight and lose a dress size, so my shape is changing even if my traditional method of measurement isn’t telling me so!

2) I like competing against myself. Sometimes I’d start a run and plan to do 8kms and then I’d just do more. To prove a point. Because fuck that measly goal.

3) Without running I am not mentally healthy. If I had to choose between wine and running, I’d pick running. Which is deeply shocking to me, but very true.

4) I spent my whole life believing I was not an athletic person, that I was not capable of running or fitness or anything like that. This month I found out that I kind of was and I actually liked it.

5) In one of those selfies my workout top has a chocolate ganache stain on it. That says more about me than I could ever say in words.
Stuff That I Am Really Proud Of.
I am insanely proud of not only making my 150kms but making it to 160. At the end of the month I went into the garage to look for some of my skinny jeans. There are lots in there. There are 65kg skinny jeans and 60kg skinny jeans and 55kg skinny jeans. The 65kg skinny jeans fit. That’s the first time in about three years. And then today when I was running around the lake I noticed that I was going to have to go a size smaller in my tights. That is a good problem to have.
There is a guy at my gym who has lost about 150 kilos. He is stoked because he can now buy clothes at a regular store like Target instead of having to go to a specialty store. Because I am a thinky person I sometimes imagine that we are communicating with knowing glances. Like the one we exchange when there is someone barely moving on the bike while reading a book. Lightweight. Or the one where I say For the love of god turn on the fan. And he does. Someone suggested to him that he should have gone on Biggest Loser and made craploads of money. He said, I could have, but then you know I have my self respect.
I need goals. I need other people who are working to the same goals as I am. But I don’t need someone having a freaking heart attack if I eat pizza or take a day off (totally happened when I was in one of those popular weight loss programs). But having a weekly check in is something that I need to keep me focused. But I get to keep my self respect too. And my chocolate ganache.

Thanks so much Zoey for sharing your experiences. I'm looking forward to bringing you the stories of a few of our #OperationMOVE crew so you can have a break from me being all me me me, and get some different ideas and persepctives as well.

In other news, the wonderful people at Blackmores have offered us a fantastic prize pack for one lucky Mover. The pack includes multivitamins, the Radiance skin care range and lots of other goodies too. How do you win it? Just keep moving!

It's check in day! Tell me your numbers!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Changing Lanes.

It was bound to happen, and yet I've been caught off guard nonetheless.

My Little Miss Thing is the poster child for two year olds at the moment. Not only is she a gold medal worthy tantrum master, but she has an attitude that would stop you dead in your tracks. When she cracks it she puts her hands on her hips, hmmmphs and storms off in a huff (in almost perfect mimicry of her big sister I should add). If that doesn't get our attention she will throw herself to the ground and roll around screaming bloody murder, but if we dare try comfort her we are likely to get a kick in the face for our efforts. Ahhhh two, what a joy you can be.

I do feel a little sorry for her I must admit, in that we often find her hissy fits amusing rather than upsetting. That's the downside of being the youngest... we've seen it all before and know that this too shall pass. Heck we're even kind of enjoying it given that she is the last baby for us. And her screwed up face is vaguely hilarious.

Along with the tantrums have come a big increase in vocabulary, improved physical ability and an independence that blows me away. All the things that my Little Mate never did at two... little did we know then that it was an indicator of something amiss... we just thought we had the crusiest and sweetest boy in the world.

The gap between them in abilities is shrinking fast right now. In some ways it is lovely, because they can play together and understand each other. Their likes are very similar, it is kind of like having twins but one of them is gigantic.

But the day will come very soon that she overtakes him. We knew it was likely to happen, just not quite this soon. My Little Miss Thing is a very precocious child (again like her sister!) and while I love watching this stage of rapid development it causes an ache in my heart as well, knowing that for my boy it has never been this straightforward, and maybe never will be. His gains are so hard earned, hers just happen as they do with neurotypical children.

I know how incredibly blessed we are in our children. I am amazed at the gains my boy has made this year and am so proud of him. But I will admit there are times of late that I watch them play and it becomes so apparent all over again the differences in this boy.

My little girl adores her brother. She will be his greatest ally and defender in years to come, we can see that already. I just wish sometimes that it would all slow down for a while so that my emotions can catch up too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mind Your Manners

When I was a teenager, I remember my Dad would go on and on about people calling and my saying who they were. Just 'Is Kate there?'. It really irritated him and I would quietly roll my eyes and say 'Yes Dad'.

The shoe is firmly on the other foot these days.

Since we moved, my Big Boy has darted getting loads of phone calls. I love that he has friends, I don't love that they call and don't tell me who they are! Let's be honest, most 9 year old boys sound much the same as each other and I may have been known to hiss at my boyo to ask them to announce themselves when they ring. Just like Dad. Eek.

Generally my kids have pretty good manners. I'm a bit of a stickler for that. Sure they may know a fair few swearwords but they'll tell you to eff off PLEASE.

I'm driving my son mad at the moment whenever he picks up the phone to ring his mates. I'll stand behind him saying 'Hi this is <insert name here>, is <so and so> there please?'. Sometimes he even says it. And I stand behind him so I don't see the eyeroll.

My Dad would be proud.

Are manners a thing for you too? What gets your goat?

* They won't really tell you to eff off. Probably not anyway. And certainly not in my hearing ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The tipping point.

Image Source
Depression and anxiety snuck up on me over Winter. I've suffered from seasonal affective disorder for many many years and I just thought it was a little worse this year, at first.

Then I started having panic attacks. Things that would usually be a minor irritation such as running late for school in the morning suddenly felt like catastrophes. I found it increasingly hard to keep my temper over the smallest of things and my usually fairly robust self esteem started withering away until I found I was mentally referring to myself as stupid and useless a lot of the time.

It was Glee that tipped me over the edge.

One night when the Supertrucker was on shift I caught up on the most recent episodes, the last of which was entitled 'The Break Up'. It was a sad episode, that much is true. But my uncontrollable reaction to it was beyond that. I wept for days. I'd replay the last scenes over in my mind and it would tear me to shreds. The Scientist was constantly on repeat in my head and I could not separate myself from it.

At some point it occurred to me that my reaction was not normal. Far from it in fact. And I know how ridiculous it sounds now but at the time I hurt as much as I did as a teenager when I broke up with my 'meant to be' boyfriend, and anyone who has lived through the angst and agony of a teenage breakup will know what I mean.

I got some help. My face blew up which pretty much sucked, but then I started a new medication that I wasn't allergic to and slowly slowly over the past few weeks I've felt myself coming back.

I still get stressed by little things, but I'm able to put them in perspective again. I'm learning how to breathe.

But I knew for sure that the medication was helping last week when I finally sat down and caught up on Glee again. I'd been avoiding all mention of it for fear I'd lose the plot. But I didn't, because it is a TV show. That's how I know my medication is working, and I am so grateful.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

#OperationMOVE - December Tracking

Rightio here we go! Great start to the month for lots of us and I really feel like the Facebook group is making it loads easier to keep in touch and stay motivated, do you?

I'm so sorry I missed your original commitments Kimberly (MM), Del and Kelly. Something went really weird with the comments last week but if you could let me know here what you were aiming for I'll be sure to update for next week.

If you've just stumbled in here, it's not too late to join us!

You can find out what #OperationMOVE is right here, and leave a comment with your commitment for the rest of the month. Go on, I dare you!

Friday, December 7, 2012

#OperationMOVE: Tools of the Trade

When I first decided to give running a go I bought myself a nice pair of good runners and decided I was all set. And I was, because you don't really NEED much more than that. But there are a few things I keep in my running bag all the time now because they make it easier and more fun for me, so I thought I'd share my toolkit with you.

Good shoes - pretty obvious one. My lovely hubster bought me these flash ones for my birthday and I love them, but at the moment I'm alternating between them and my older ones as I'm getting lots of blisters as I increase my distances.

Runkeeper App - I first started out using Ease into 5K and found that great for building up endurance. Somewhere along the line I got bored of it though and started setting my own intervals. I'm building them up over time with a goal to run 8kms straight by the end of January (eek!). I have set 4 of my own workout within the app for 6, 8, 10 and 12km runs.

I love the tracking over time within the app, it really spurs me on. Every time I finish a run and it pings up with a personal best notification I literally punch the air. No, not competitive at all ;)

Music - I will admit I neeeeeed music when I run. Nature is nice and all but I need a beat to keep me moving. Plus it helps drown out the thoughts in my head. Running is my 'me' time and the repetitiveness of it along with some tunes is almost like meditation to me... it's the only time I feel truly alone and I savour it.

I have my iPhone with me all the time and use Shazam to capture tracks that I hear on the radio in the car then download them to my phone and add them to my run playlists. My current fave is Khe San, that has the perfect BPM for a steady run that is just above my comfort zone right now.

Also yes I have dodgy eclectic taste in music. Wanna make something of it?

Sunnies - I used to wear my normal big sunnies and they would clunk around on my face and drive me nuts. I bought myself a lightweight pair for my birthday and while I'm not going to win any awards for hotness in them, they remain comfortable even when I'm sweating bullets. Also, I have no idea what is going on with that face. Just saying.

Heart rate monitor - completely inessential but nice to have. I am a numbers girl, they are what drive me onwards. I have this set up so it beeps at me when my heartrate drops to around 120... it's like a little message saying move your legs lazybones! I also like that it measures calories burned more accurately than Runkeeper given that often I'm pushing 40kgs of pram & kids. I'm not a calorie counter but it is just nice to see how hard I've worked. Love it when the heart rate average over a run is around 150 as well, that's when I KNOW I've really worked.

Do you have tools of the trade? What helps motivate you and keeps you moving?

It is check in day! Leave your week's work in the comments and I'll have the tally board up over the weekend. Don't forget we have a fantastic Facebook Group happening as well, lots of lovely chat in there so come and join us!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fallout Boy

Thursdays can be a Very Bad Day at our place quite often. It is the day between child care days for my little two, and more often than not the day that my Little Mate is at his most challenging.

He loves going to care now. He talks about it often and the break between Friday and Wednesday can be terribly long for him sometimes. He has a fantastic time when he is there and more often than not at pickup now I hear how he has been 'just one of the kinder boys' that day. Music to my ears.

What people don't necessarily see though is the effort it costs him to be just one of the boys. That is what we see when he gets home. His ever present need for routine is multiplied tenfold and I have learned the hard way to never ever plan anything on those evenings.

On Thursdays there is often much yelling, lots of stimming and a need to be squeezed often. It happens on Saturdays too but isn't as obvious, maybe because I have the big two at home then as well so we're at our capacity for noise and motion anyway.

My thought is that the effort it takes to fit in on child care days means that my boy's ability to keep those funny feelings, noises and behaviours inside has reached its limit. Certainly Wednesday and Friday nights are often pretty awful with many more night wakings and lots of echolalia and gibberish speak. Knowing that helps me keep my cool, even when I am exhausted and at my own limit for compassion. I remind myself often that if I am finding it hard, how much harder must it be for him?

The Supertrucker has this week returned to normal shifts after an extended period on workcover due to an injury. It has smacked all of us in the face a bit, we'd gotten used to him being home more often. Last night my Little Mate was in floods of tears at bedtime; "Where's my Daddy? Want my Daddy!". It was absolutely heartbreaking.

We have a challenging time ahead as we all adjust back to me being the only grown up for a lot of the time, especially my boy who has just loved having so much extra time with his Dad.

What sparks fallout at your place? And how do you cope with it?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

'Tis the Season

December has really snuck up on me this year.

I'm not sure if it is because we've had a fairly stressful time of late, or that I've spent the last little bit in a blur of activity, I just am shocked to find that Christmas is just around the corner. The problem with having the shops being Christmas focussed for SO long beforehand is that for me at least, a lot of the joy of shopping and planning is lost because it is such a long time away.

My big kids have been asking for weeks about the tree, the letters to Santa, how long until holidays. On Saturday I knew the jig was up and it was time to embrace the season properly. This will be our first Christmas in this house and we had loads of fun getting out the decorations and lights.

My bigs put the tree together and decorated it all by themselves for the first time this year. I have such fond memories of doing this with my sisters when we were young. They did a great job too!

Santa is going to have his work cut out squeezing down THIS chimney!
We bought some wall stickers from Aldi and popped them up around the place, but my favourite favourite Christmas thing is always the lights. The one downside to living where we do now is that it is a long drive to go and see some decorated houses... I think a sleepover at my parents may be in order so we don't miss out on the spectacular display not far from their place.

Love having a bay window in the kitchen!
The past couple of years my Big Girl and I have formed a little tradition of baking gingerbread each weekend and decorating it. We will be doing this for the kids' teachers and some of our neighbours. I LOVE the reindeer ones, they are time consuming but they look a bit cool I think. Upside down gingerbread men for anyone who wants to make them too!

We have a little orchard at our new place, and while we are only just working out what each tree grows (seems to be heaps of apples and some peaches!) this one wasn't hard to figure out at all. I am stoked!

We've netted the tree and I'm hoping to have some bowls of gorgeous home grown cherries on our Christmas table if they fully ripen in time.

Are you embracing the Christmas season? What traditions do you have for December?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mind Your Own Business

Before she had her own baby three months ago, I'm pretty sure my sister thought I exaggerated some of the judgement I've experienced as a parent.

Sadly since becoming a mother she has discovered for herself that everyone who has had a baby, held a baby, known a baby or looked at a baby has an opinion on what you are doing and why it is wrong (ie not how they did it).

Sometimes it is because of generational changes and I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. We can learn a lot from those older than us and in my own experience the advice given has been given with good wishes rather than nastiness.

But here is the thing. I was a new Mum once and for me it was a time of confusion, happiness, sadness and endless exhaustion. I'm pretty sure most new mums feel the same way. Yet other mothers are so quick to point out their failings.

Take feeding your baby. Bottle feeding? We all know how incredibly upsetting comment on that can be. Breastfeeding? That hold looks weird. Is his latch right? He's using you as a dummy, you need to stop that right now. For a woman who is probably unused to exposing her breasts publicly and may not be comfortable with it as yet, having someone scrutinize what is going on can be incredibly upsetting. Here's a quick tip... if you are close enough to see the nipple then you are TOO CLOSE. Give them some space!

How about sleeping? Is she a 'good' baby? Is she sleeping through the night? Why not? Where is she sleeping? In your room? Well there's your problem. Not in your room? Well there's your problem.

We did what we needed to to survive those early weeks with our sanity intact. So do most families with new babies I expect. It can be a hard enough time without being made to doubt your decisions.

If a brand new mum asks your advice chances are she is actually asking you to help her feel good about herself and her choices rather than actually wanting you to tell her how she is 'doing it wrong'. Instead of comparing her baby and situation with yours, how about pointing out all the amazing things she has achieved and then doing her dishes so she can have a rest. I'd have loved that.

It's not just about not saying anything nice, it's about recognizing that a woman is going through one of the most challenging transitions of her life and even words intended to 'help' can be taken as a criticism.

Unless her baby is neglected or abused then she is doing a good job... The best job she knows how. And that is to be celebrated, not judged.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

#OperationMOVE November - Winners!

Finally, I have the final tallies for November for you!

If I've missed one of your updates I apologise... unless they are on the check in posts it is very tricky for me to keep track of them.

What an amazing effort! So many got very close to their goals and a number smashed them!

I'm so proud of all of us, and am excited about our Summer Series. It's not too late to join us!

I'd also like to say a big thankyou to RedBalloon and Digital Parents Collective for their generous support throughout Spring.

The winner of the RedBalloon in home massage and facial is...


Congratulations, I know you will just love your prize!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

#OperationMOVE - The Summer Series!

I am so ready to kick my own butt over the next two months!

Summer can be a bugger in terms of exercise... I know I'm already feeling the heat and thinking about the changes I will want to make to my fitness program to work around that. Although I have to say the idea of running on a treadmill for 10kms does nothing for me!

ANYWAY welcome to the #OperationMOVE Summer series! This series will be running over two months, much of which will be school holidays for those of us with big kids. There are lots of things to factor in to your goals for these two months so make sure you are being realistic but still challenging yourself!

If you are new, you can find out more about OperationMOVE here.

I'm so excited to introduce Courtney from Fit4Life as our expert advisor for the program. Courtney has made an amazing journey herself and is incredibly inspiring to me. She'll be helping out with advice, some exercise programs that you might like to use and some motivation for when we have the lazies. In her own words:

"I am Courtney, a reformed cola addict, who is still partial to chocolate. I had an epiphany one day 

and decided that although I am a mum to two wonderful kids I am still a women and an individual. I 

had let my weight get out of control and decided to take it by the love handles and throw it away for 

good. 12 months later I have lost 17 kilos and have gained not only my life and energy back but also 

a Certificate III in Fitness and will have my Certificate IV by mid December. I am also a trainee 

coach for Metabolic Jumpstart, a nutritional program by Matt O’Neill. Lets take this journey 

together and smash some goals. Feel free to ask me anything, there is no such thing as a stupid 

question – if I don’t know the answer I will find out."

I've also set up a closed Facebook OperationMOVE group. I really wanted a place where we can chat more freely and where you might like to ask any questions as well. I've set it to closed because I know the fitness journey can be an intensely personal one and I know I don't necessarily want what I say showing up in the feeds of a friend's friend's friend. If you click the link and request entry I will happily admit you, but please know that the group is for support and advice and what happens in there stays in there. Sound good?

Check ins will be here on Fridays and again I'll be updating the tally board of a Friday night so be sure to post your comments before 8.30pm AEST if you can.

So housekeeping aside, it is time to commit!

My personal goals for the next two months are to continue running and increase my run intervals until I am doing longer stretches without dying of death more comfortably. I am also committing to more core and strength work, so my plan is three longish runs a week and three weight bearing sessions. Given I'll have kids at home for a fair proportion of this time I am committing to 1200 minutes and 120kms for December.